1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Percy Bysshe Shelley

John Neal, "Shelley" The Yankee [Portland] 1 (19 March 1828) 96.



Of this extraordinary young man, little or nothing is known either in this country, or in the country of his birth, except among a few of the most gifted of the age. But those who do know him, know that Byron was largely indebted to him for a good many of his bravest, and boldest, and tenderest thoughts. He had also, we have heard Mr. W. West, the American painter say this — he had also the most wonderful-looking head ever seen alive on our earth; it was downright sculpture — the sculpture, not of man, however, but of God; and they that knew him were afraid in his presence. Whatever he thought or did was poetry, his every look was poetry — a dreaming, vast, shadowy, and mysterious poetry. He died as he lived — the reality of what Byron affected to be; a man with little or no sympathy for the creatures of earth; and uplifted by the inward consciousness of immortal strength, above the sympathy of all but one or two. The following [from Stanzas written in Dejection] is an extract from one of his short Poems. Of the deeps' "untrampled floor," and of the whole of the two first Stanzas, we dare not trust ourselves to speak as they deserve.